By Alan Jacobs
If the entire of the Christian existence is to be ruled by means of the “law of love”—the twofold love of God and one’s neighbor—what may perhaps it suggest to learn lovingly? that's the query that drives this detailed e-book. Jacobs pursues this not easy activity through alternating mostly theoretical, theological chapters—drawing specially on Augustine and Mikhail Bakhtin—with interludes that examine specific readers (some genuine, a few fictional) within the act of analyzing. one of the authors thought of are Shakespeare, Cervantes, Nabakov, Nicholson Baker, George Eliot, W.H. Auden, and Dickens. The theoretical framework is elaborated typically chapters, whereas quite a few counterfeits of or substitutes for really charitable interpretation are thought of within the interludes, which steadily shut in on that infrequent creature, the loving reader. via this doubled approach to research, Jacobs attempts to teach how tough it truly is to learn charitably—even should still one desire to, which, in fact, few folks do. And accurately as the prospect of studying in one of these demeanour is so offputting, one of many covert targets of the ebook is to make it appear either extra believable and extra appealing.
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Extra info for A Theology of Reading: The Hermeneutics of Love
Faced with the terrifying claims that others can make upon the self, Tom&sRodaja finds a form of madness that evades the need to respond (whether positively or negatively) to such claims: His new fragility puts him both literally and metaphorically beyond the reach of other people. But what is especially interesdng about the licentiate5 glassy state is that, according to Tc~miis,it also makes him preternaturally wise and discerning: "He begged them to speak to him at a disrance and ask what questions they pleased, saying that he would answer them more intelligently because he was now a rnail of glass, and not of flesh and blood; for glass, being a subtle and delicate material, permits the soul to act through it with more efficacy and promptimde than through the body, which is heavy and earthy" (155).
Mg-no,as the pilgrim and his p i d e Virgil-a choice of guide Augustine would doubtless disapprove of-visit the eighth circle of Hell, the tenth bolgia ("ditch" or "pouch") of that circle, they meet the Falsifiers. Amc~ngthese sinners are a counterfeiter named Master Adam and a falsifier oI: words, the infamous Greek &m, who tricked the Trojans into allowing the fatal wooden horse into their city. Dante watches as Master Adam and Sinon fall into a bitter exchange of vimperative insult. For thirty lines of verse they snarl at one another, Dante (and we the readers) attending all the time.
Thus Nussbaum's work i s scarcely original on this point; but it does explore the insight in 44 m Love arrd Kiluzl*ledg philosophical terms that are amenable to hermeneutical and philosophical reflection. ) T h e relation of love and knowledge is also the theme of Plato5 Symposium, but that work, too, is a debate about thefotm of love that produces knowledge. This is the subject of hTussbaumS brilliant analysis in her book The Pi-~~giIility of Goodness (ch. h). To the conventionally trained philosopher, the sudden appearance of the drunken Athenian general Alcibiades just after Socrates finishes his speech seems to he little more than a way, perhaps a rather clumsy way, for Plato to bring the dialogue to an end.